Disruptions in Higher Education

There are many problems facing higher education, in fact the view of how beneficial college actually is has been changing. One of the main disruptions facing higher education is the cost. In College Unbound, Selingo explains that there are five disruptions in higher education. Firstly, colleges are spending more money than they have. Each year colleges spend more and more and don’t have the money needed to support their costs, therefore getting in debt. The second disruption is that colleges are receiving less money from the government, while the third disruption is that not many students can afford full tuition. With the reduced money from the government, the colleges must rely more heavily on student’s tuition, but many cannot afford it as the cost of college is constantly rising. The fourth disruption is that there are free, online alternative to education and the last disruption is that the value of a college degree is decreasing. All of these disruptions together are jeopardizing the future of higher education.

With all of these problems facing colleges at once, it becomes difficult to see how colleges can stay open in the long run. While schools may be closing due to their increasing debt, I think that it is essential that in-person higher education continues to exist and does not get replaced by online education. In “Independent Study”, Illich explains that we can either “continue to believe that institutionalized learning is a product which justifies unlimited investment” or we can aim to “tear down the barriers that impede opportunities for learning, which can only be a personal activity” (112). This view sums up many of the disruptions of higher education. As the cost of higher education keeps rising, the payoff of getting a degree becomes smaller, especially when there are free alternatives available to everyone online. Illich believes that education should not be something that you are forced to do, it should be a personal activity and taking part in this activity should be accessible to everyone. He argues for “replacing formal schools with a technologically enabled, largely self-directed, free, and open exchange of information” (113). While this is a viable economic solution, I think that many of the benefits of higher education would be lost with online schooling. The benefits of higher education are greater than just the information gained. I believe that the benefits of higher education are greater than these disruptions. While colleges do need to figure out a way to cut costs, turning completely to online education should not be the answer.


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